Western Cape Business News

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Recent Western Cape Business News

THE current economic climate has proved advantageous to companies offering outsourcing services – the practice of employing outside firms to handle work normally performed within a company.

Such a company is Associated Energy Services (AES) which was formed in 1996 (although its core members operated in the field for many years prior) and is recognised as a leader in outsourcing in the field of contract energy management.

The company focuses on the operation of plant for industrial energy users, critically assessing its efficiency and then providing innovative solutions. AES project manages the entire process from design, installation and commissioning to operation and management of the new plant or the changes to the existing one.

While the practice of outsourcing is usually considered to be undertaken for economic reasons, such as the reduction of labour costs and financial risk, it also offers other benefits, for instance, in enabling companies to concentrate on their core business, the freeing up of capital for use elsewhere in the business and access to specialised services. This latter consideration is certainly AES’s strength as it has developed a technical resource base which supports a diversity of energy operations providing expertise in such areas as renewable energy, electricity generation, waste to energy projects, novel combustion, heat recovery and environmental compliance.

Although the advantages to a client from an outsourced energy contract with AES vary according to the operation and site, they normally include improvement in maintenance, plant output, plant availability, operation, fuel consumption and plant thermal efficiency.

A major concern in this country is the shortage of skills and here AES offers an essential service of training energy plant operating staff while providing access to its own well of knowledge and expertise. Its emphasis on being up to date with technical and statutory legislation is an important aspect while the more practical benefits of risk reduction in the areas of process, energy supply, fuel and environment are also significant. It can even act as a resource for external third-party funding of plant re-configuration or upgrades.

While the majority of the company’s operations are centred on industrial process steam generation and supply, with fourteen different sites currently under its management, it also concentrates on recovery-based, energy generation in thermal oil, hot air and electricity.

Commented Andrew Standring as to the value of dealing with AES, “We concentrate on client-specific solutions, which we are able to provide from a wealth of experience derived from years of involvement on a diversification of sites. This also includes technical capabilities and in-house management procedures. We follow a partnership approach with clients and focus heavily on our own staff development as we recognize that their capabilities are key to effective service delivery”.

The company is not aligned with any specific fuel, equipment or technology type and so is able to provide an objective recommendation for clients’ energy requirements and can call on numerous fuel, equipment and technology suppliers to select the optimum solution.

A major contribution to AES’s success is that its service is on-going. It is, for example, presently engaged in consolidating current contracts ensuring that the energy supply is as efficient as possible while continually updating clients on alternative fuel possibilities, equipment retrofits and new technologies with key personnel travelling overseas for this purpose. Many of the company’s contracts have been renewed in excess of three terms with the typical contract length being between 3 – 5 years – testament to the recognition of AES’s ability as a dedicated specialist on the operation and management of industrial energy plant.

Following on from its successful operation of a biomass-based, cogeneration facility since 2004, the company has participated in the Pilot National Co-generation Programme (PNCP) and the Medium Term Power Purchase Programme (MTPPP) initiatives promoted by ESKOM which will assist in the future development of private sector power generation projects.

AES is also taking its environmental responsibility seriously. As part of its policy to conserve energy, reduce operating costs and minimise environmental damage, it aims to improve its energy efficiency and consumption over the next five years by committing to improvement targets in respect of its current operations. In order to better its environmental performance, it has implemented an Environmental Management System which will in future comply with ISO certification.

AES’s Head office is in Cape Town with regional operations in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng.

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